The Lazy CEO Podcast

Helping Leaders and Teams Do Their Best Work

by Apr 17, 2023The Lazy CEO Podcast

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In this episode of Helping Leaders and Teams Do Their Best Work

  • How to create clarity and dependability on any team.
  • How to generate team cohesion, cooperation and positive corporate culture.
  • How to build purpose and meaning into every role on a team.

Here is a glimpse of Helping Leaders and Team Do Their Best Work

Jim Schlecker, CEO of The CEO Project and host of The Lazy CEO Podcast has a conversation with Dr. David Burkus.


I help leaders and teams do their best work ever. I think two things fundamentally. One is that work is central to our lives. Even if we had universal basic income and everybody was being paid, most people would still want to do something and make some contribution to the world. So work is central to our lives. And that work is teamwork. Your experience of work, whether or not you’re engaged or motivated, whether or not you actually want to put your whole effort into something is shaped less so by broad company culture and more by the teams that you’re on. And for a CEO, this is your job. Whether you are the CEO or a middle manager, no matter what team you lead, you are responsible for the culture of that team. That’s what I focus on, is teaching teams and teaching team leaders how to have a culture that actually unlocks high performance, unlocks motivation, allows them to be more innovative et cetera.


Let’s talk about culture and culture management. Your comment is culture is experienced locally. And so how do we as leaders of scaled organizations deal with the fact that culture is experienced locally, not globally, feels like we don’t have the levers of control on that one. So how, how do you help people with that?


So what do you do to scale culture? You teach leaders at all levels what a great team culture looks like, and you make them responsible for the one on their team. I look at it as sort of concentric circles. What do we as an organization want to be about? What are our values, mission, vision, et cetera? And then you have to teach every leader at every level to do the same thing in a smaller circle. Inside that larger circle, you run into problems when you let leaders do something that’s against the corporate-wide values, the company-wide values, and culture, but as long as it’s inside of it, every team is going to have a stronger culture that is still a little bit different from other teams inside the organization. Culture is everybody’s job. It’s not just that senior leader job and you teach them specifically. There are decades of research on corporate culture and effective culture, et cetera. But when you dive down into team culture, it is easier to focus on. It becomes a little bit easier to teach every team leader what they’re responsible for.


I’m a CEO. What are the factors that make a great team culture that I should be thinking about and



I boil it down to three factors, which I call common understanding, psychological safety, and pro-social purpose.

Psychological Safety

What we’re not talking about is a place where you’ll never confront a dissenting opinion. We’re actually talking about the opposite. We’re talking about an environment where people feel safe to state their dissenting opinions, and where there’s a climate of mutual trust and respect. When you have a high level of trust and respect, you can have task-focused conflict. You can have people speaking up when they disagree. And you get a team that’s more willing to admit their failures. And I think that’s probably the biggest element of psychological safety that has nothing to do with safe spaces and that sort of thing. I mean, by the way, there’s no such thing as safe spaces. There are only safe people. But that’s a whole other monologue. You learn from failure because you cultivate a team where people trust everyone else on the team is not going to leverage their mistakes and their screw-ups to try and step over that person into a promotion. Instead, we acknowledge we had a learning moment here. We failed. Failures happen from time to time. And as long as you’re not grossly incompetent in failing all the time, as long as this isn’t a performance issue, then the failure’s really just a learning moment. Let’s talk about it and let’s learn from it.

Common Understanding

A common understanding is how well we have clarity of roles, clarity of responsibilities, how well we have dependability, and we can trust that other people on the team are going to do what they say they do, but also how well we understand the other teammates. How well we have clarity of their person, their personality differences, and their work preferences.

You get so much frustration on a team just because people are fighting for people to follow their favorite process. You look at a tool as simple as email. It’s been around for 50 years, and no one can agree on how long an email is supposed to be used, how many main points, and what the rules for replying are. And you’re not going to convince everyone to treat this tool the same, but you can understand the different preferences on your team, and you can understand who keeps a different calendar. And so they send late-night emails and you don’t feel threatened by that, et cetera. You get a lot more collaboration because when you understand the preferences of your team, you know how to speak to that person better, and you know how and what to expect from them.

Pro Social Purpose

The pro-social purpose is essentially meaning and impact. It’s whether we feel like we’re making a contribution to work that benefits others. We’re motivated to do work because we know it will benefit others because it has this sort of pro-social element to it. And so I think the big question leaders need to answer, and this is why it’s also important at a team level, is who’s benefiting from the work that we not why do we do what we do, but who is served by the work that we’re doing? And that varies by every single team. There are customers and stakeholders for a whole organization, but some teams serve the people who serve the customer.

For more ideas about effective leaders and teams, listen to the entire conversation on this episode of The Lazy CEO Podcast – Helping Leaders and Teams Do Their Best Work.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Thank You to Our Guest

david burkus

One of the world’s leading business thinkers, Dr. David Burkus’ forward-thinking ideas and bestselling books are helping leaders and teams do their best work ever.

He is the bestselling author of four books about business and leadership. His books have won multiple awards and have been translated into dozens of languages. Since 2017, Burkus has been ranked multiple times as one of the world’s top business thought leaders. His insights on leadership and teamwork have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, USAToday, Fast Company, the Financial Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, CNN, the BBC, NPR, and CBS This Morning. A former business school professor, Burkus now works with leaders from organizations across all industries, including PepsiCo, Fidelity, Adobe, and NASA.

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by The CEO Project. The CEO Project is a business advisory group that brings high-caliber, accomplished CEOs together. Our team of skilled advisors is comprised of current and former CEOs who have run both public and private sector companies across multiple industries. With our experience and expertise, we guide hundreds of high-performing CEOs through a disciplined approach that resolves constraints and improves critical decisions. The CEO Project has helped high-performing, large enterprise CEOs with annual revenues ranging from $20M to over $2 billion to drive growth and achieve optimal outcomes. If you are an experienced CEO looking to grow your company, visit